Security Cameras: Public Safety or Invasion of Privacy? (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw

April 18, 2013 Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 6:59 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.nbc33.com) – Investigators in Boston have made major breakthroughs in their investigations in large part due to footage from nearby security cameras and videos from pedestrians phones. And yet many wonder when the use of those cameras goes too far.

According to the Allen County Department of Homeland Security, using security cameras for the sole purpose of monitoring public safety is not something they are currently doing. In fact, almost all security footage used to fight crime in Fort Wayne comes from the businesses themselves. Examples of this is being seen in Boston right now, where key footage investigators are using came from a camera mounted on a department store across the street from the finish line.

Yet for some people even that is pushing the line too far. Some feel the use of cameras for that purpose may go beyond public safety, becoming an invasion of privacy.

"Well, everybody doesn't like 'Big Brother' looking over them,” says Officer Jeremy Tinkel with the Allen County Sheriff’s Office. “In this case it's not the government that's putting up the cameras, it's business owners. It's private citizens doing that. So in that aspect of it, it's for their protection and it's for the protection of the citizens as well."

The Allen County Office of Homeland Security agrees. "The government is here to serve the individual citizen,” says Director Bernie Beier. “So it's the individual citizen who gets to decide, that should be deciding and leading that discussion. As it relates to this subject matter: what's appropriate, what's reasonable, what's that reasonable expectation of privacy. And as a community we should always be at the driver seat of that discussion."

When asked whether putting security cameras around Fort Wayne was a realistic addition for public safety, Beier feels this is not something Fort Wayne residents need to worry about any time soon.

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